Books to Read For Pride Month 2024

To celebrate Pride month Cassie, Payload’s Community Manager, offered to review some books for us. Check out the reviews below. Thanks Cassie for putting them together!

Hello, lovelies! Khally (Director of People and Culture) has ‘enabled my book buying’ (her words, not mine) this month by letting me review some LGBTQIA+ books for you!

So, let’s dig into the books!

Title: In Memoriam

Author: Alice Wynn

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, War, Romance


I pretty much tend to exclusively read Historical Fiction when I’m not reading Fantasy/Sci-Fi, so this one was an easy sell for me when I was directed to it by the staff at Waterstones’ Croydon shop. (Side note: they didn’t have the actual book I went in for, Men at War by Luke Turner, and they then spent the next ten minutes frantically recommending other LGBT+ fiction; picking up books, turning them over, going ‘Is this one gay?! I’m sure this one is at least a bit gay.’ God bless you, booksellers.) 


In Memoriam follows the stories of two young men, Gaunt and Ellwood, just before the start of WW1. Each of them is in love with the other man, but neither of them outright admits it to the other, because, well, it’s the early twentieth century and homosexuality between men is straight-up illegal. Thanks, David Lloyd George! 


I found this one a little difficult to get into, finding a lot of the details of the war at the front somewhat glossed over (and I promise I’m only someone who has a passing interest in military history–I don’t care about tank numbers or the accuracy of a certain weapon’s recoil), but it does go into more detail the further on it gets, and the relationship between the two men is a beautiful, slow burning one. 


Overall Score: 3.5/5

Title: XOXY: A Memoir

Author: Kimberley M. Zieselman

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Memoir, Gender Studies


XOXY is a true story about a woman named Kimberley who discovers during a cancer scare that she was born as an intersex person, but that this information has been kept hidden from her for her entire life. It was only after I’d purchased it that I realised that the book’s official description said specifically that it was ‘written from a non-queer perspective’, and so I considered leaving it out of this review and choosing another book, but the LGTBQIA+ community does include intersex people as its ‘I’, meaning that I thought it had a place here.


You can, of course, be both queer and intersex, but the author identifies as straight. Despite this, part of what I wanted to challenge myself to do was to read things from groups I don’t consider myself a part of/that I don’t know much about, and XOXY certainly ticks that box. So if you’re only interested in exclusively reading books written by queer authors and/or about queer characters this month, you can skip this review and move onto Our Wives Under the Sea


As Kimberley tries to grapple with this new understanding of her identity at the age of 41, she also has to contend with the US healthcare system, and what it means to be intersex when you also need health insurance to survive:


“…if the hospital here has on record that you have XY chromosomes…your insurance might deny you coverage of certain tests. Like mammograms.” 


It’s an amazing true story about family, identity and learning to love a new version of yourself. Adding it to my Goodreads meant that Goodreads also recommended me a bunch of memoirs of other intersex people, so let me know if you want recommendations! 


Overall Score: 4.5/5

Title: Our Wives Under the Sea

Author: Julia Armfield

Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Horror/Mystery


This is a book that people who know I have an interest in nautical history and oceanography have been recommending to me for over a year, but one that I shamefully haven’t picked up until now. 


Our Wives Under the Sea revolves around a couple, Leah and Miri, who have to contend with Leah’s traumatic return from a submarine, wherein the power to her vessel suddenly shut off, leaving her stranded in darkness, thousands of feet underwater. 


What begins as a story about the ever-weakening relationship between the two women quickly turns into something far darker and mysterious, where you start to question the very reality that the book presents. The writing is also beautiful: concise where it needs to be, and more descriptive at times without being flowery or saccharine. 


It’s funny, and sad, and odd: just touching the surface of Body Horror and Magical Realism without diving completely in, leaving you wondering what’s true and what isn’t. 


Overall Score: 4.5/5

– Cassie